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Technological Regimes, Catch-up and Leapfrogging: Findings from the Korean Industries


  • Keun Lee


  • Chaisung Lim



This paper examines the experiences of selected industries in Korea to identify the stylized facts in the process of technological capability building and thereby to sort out, if possible, the conditions for the catch-up to occur. We have built a model of technological and market catch-up. Technological capabilities is determined as a function of both technological effort and the existing knowledge base. As determinants of technological effort, we look at the technological regimes of the industries, such as cumulativeness of technical advances, fluidity of technological trajectory, and the properties of knowledge base. Using this model, we explains the different technological evolution of the selected industries in Korea, such as D-RAM, automobile, mobile phone, consumer electronics, personal computer, and machine tool industries. We find three different patterns of catch- ups, path-creating catch-up(CDMA mobile phone), path-skipping catch-up (D- RAM and automobile), and path-following catch-up(consumer electronics, personal computers and machine tools). We interpret the first two cases as "leap- frogging." Unlike Perez & Soete(1988), we find that important R&D projects, except automobiles, involved both private and public capacities, and that entry was not driven by endogenous generation of knowledge and skills but by collboration with foreign companies.

Suggested Citation

  • Keun Lee & Chaisung Lim, 1999. "Technological Regimes, Catch-up and Leapfrogging: Findings from the Korean Industries," Working Paper Series no17, Institute of Economic Research, Seoul National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:snu:ioerwp:no17

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    Asian NICs; developing countries; technological regime; technological capability; industrial dynamics;

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